Utah – Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park has one spectacular view of a U-shaped bend in the Colorado River, surrounded by red canyon walls. Beyond this viewpoint, I believe the main attractions are pet-friendly trails and mountain biking. In National Parks, mountain biking is generally not allowed, and pets must be restrained. Since Rebecca and I did not bring bikes nor pets, we only stopped by the viewpoint for sunset.
Dead Horse Point State Park is near Canyonlands National Park and roughly a 40-minute drive from Moab. If you are going for sunrise or sunset, be sure to buffer a bit of extra time. As a singular activity, it is a long but beautiful drive. If I were to do again, I would try to pair going to the viewpoint with activities in Canyonlands National Park.
Dead Horse Point State Park Overlook
Located at the very end of is park is the main overlook. You will drive by a couple campgrounds and yurts, which look fun to stay in. When we arrived, there were about 5 cars in the pull-out area. We had underestimated the drive, so the sun had just dipped below the horizon. The canyon was beautiful with purple and blue tones coming out rather than the vibrant red color.
The way the canyon had eroded, views to the Colorado River are not direct, unless you do a bit of scrambling. Although a geological fascination, the overlook is not quite as picturesque as the Horseshoe Bend in Arizona. With our trip being in July, I am glad we made use of this temperate time of day.
If you are interested in mountain biking or staying in the yurts, check out this website.
At a Glance:
- Rating: 2 stars, was neat, but do not need to see it again
- Intensity: Sandals and shorts
- Duration: .5 hour
- Cost: State Park Entrance Fee
- Location: Dead Horse Point State Park
- Restrooms: At the welcome center, check hours
- Views of a horseshoe bend in the Colorado River
- Fewer crowds than well-known areas (Arches, Monument Valley)
- Not a lot to see in the park for the drive (40-60 minutes out of Moab)
Recommended for site-seeing:
- Water and snacks for the drive
The name, as you can imagine, is quite sad so feel free to skip this section. The park is located on top of an enormous mesa, which abruptly ends on each side as you move southeast. At the most southern tip of the mesa, near the overlook, there is a section that becomes very narrow before widening out.
As the legend goes, cowboys used this bottlenecked area to corral wild mustangs, blocking off the narrow section with branches and brush. The mustangs would not be able to navigate down the sides of the cliff. At one time, for an unknown reason, cowboys or ranchers left the mustangs corralled at the point and died of thirst. Do you know why this tragic legend became the basis for the park's name?
If you visited Dead Horse Point overlook, what did you think? How does it compare to Horseshoe Bend in Arizona?